The Observatory

by Codeverse

5 Ways Parents Can Learn Coding with Their Kids

Daughter showing Dad how to code in KidScript

5 min read

Not a technologist but want to help your kid code? Codeverse is on it!

Learning to code opens up exciting new worlds for both kids and adults. As a parent, you want to be able to support your child to the best of your ability as they embark on learning this new, useful skill. But you may be surprised by the possibilities you can open up for yourself as well!

1. Curiosity comes first and forever.

When you code, you are creating a world of things and interactions, and you want to be clear in your mind how everything should work together. So, where can you draw inspiration? From how things work in the world around us!

If you’ve always taken for granted everyday objects like washing machines, elevators, or even the microwave, try stopping for a moment to really piece together how these objects actually work. Don’t be afraid to ask (you can always ask the internet, too). What does the object need to have or know? What actions does it take in response? How does it communicate its status or results? Up the ante: How can we change it to make the object do its job better? Encourage your child to try this activity with you anywhere you go.

When you understand how something works, then you can explain it to someone else methodically, almost like a series of rules. When you can explain it to a computer as a series of rules, you’re ready to get coding!

A small example: a microwave must have power before it can run and the clock must be correctly set; the microwave accepts an amount of time and a power level from you, the user; the microwave “microwaves” for the given time at the given power level; and the microwave makes a noise to indicate that the allotted time is up. To make the microwave better: Should the microwave make a different noise that’s more attention-grabbing? No noise at all? Should it have a setting that cooks the same food in half the time? Should it be able to scan the food and set the time and power itself? Get imaginative!

2. Coding can be playtime.

There are great boardgames, bots, and toys out there to help kids dabble in computational thinking. Try playing with any potential investment yourself before deciding if it’s a good one. Ask yourself: Is this activity asking me to create directions or rules? Is this activity enabling me to break a bigger task into smaller parts? Will this continue to be engaging for my child because new challenges are possible?

A small selection from the Codeverse storefront:
Cubetto: Ages 3-6. The friendly wooden robot that needs your help to navigate its adventures.

Ozobot Bit: Ages 8+. Simply draw lines and color segments to control this approachable mini-bot.

Sphero SPRK+: Ages 8+. Kid-proof spherical droids with light, motion, and navigation controls. Program Sphero through a drag-and-drop app to navigate mazes, have a dance party, or create your own challenges.

Kids at play with Cubetto robot and space grid.

Once you get the concepts from other activities, you can make up your own games too! One that we like to play is Simon Says IF, which helps kids learn about true/false conditionals. Each player takes turns declaring an “if” statement and an action, and everyone else should only react if their statement is true: If I am taller than Mommy, hop three times. If the sky is blue, jump like a dolphin.

Don’t worry if a game doesn’t work quite the way you imagined the first time. Iterating on your work is part of being a coder!

3. Don’t underestimate the power of storytelling.

We are more engaged and we remember more when a new concept or problem is embedded in a story. Thankfully, some fantastic children’s authors are leading the way on this.

“Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding” is a great introduction to computational thinking and the attitude it takes to get through challenges. Author Linda Liukas even includes some DIY puzzles and activities at the end of the story for creative fun with your child. Codeverse also has “A is for Array” by Branden J. Hansen available. We also recommend “My First Coding Book” for kids as young as 5 by Kiki Prottsman, which includes hands-on paper engineering activities to tackle with your child.

4. Dive into the deep end with adult resources.

A huge number of resources exist for adults, mostly geared towards actually becoming a developer. You definitely don’t have to be a developer to help your child learn to code!

You can experiment with educational videos, self-paced courses (Javascript is a good place to start), and simple programming tools to see what works for you. If you are interested in learning to code for yourself, our two cents is to think of something that you care about building, whether it’s an app, a website, or a multi-level game.

5. KidScript is our top pick!

The Codeverse team designed and developed our own proprietary language, KidScript, to make writing code easy and fun, while also being robust enough for kids to build any kind of app their hearts desire.

Codeverse kids have at home access to KidScript as part of a multi-month membership. You can learn core principles such as methods, loops, variables, and more alongside your child through our curriculum and see how these principles are applied in your child’s custom projects. We highly recommend that you work with your child on at least one project to see where creativity takes you!

Second-grader building a KidScript game in the studio.

Ultimately, we want you to be armed with the same curiosity, excitement, and inspiration when it comes to coding with your own child.

Interested in signing your kid up for a free coding class at Codeverse Lincoln Park? Reserve a spot today!


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